The Portland Timbers traveled across the country to take on struggling Eastern Conference side D.C. United today, looking for their first road win of the season. After another slow start, however, the Timbers found themselves in a 2-0 hole that the team was never in danger of escaping.
Once again things started off on the wrong foot for the Timbers as they found themselves down a goal in just the 7th minute. After a bad back pass from Liam Ridgewell resulted in D.C. getting the first corner kick of the match, the home team were happy for the opportunity. Winger Lloyd Sam hit a low, curling ball off the restart, which glanced off the head of D.C. captain Bobby Boswell, and fell directly to Steve Birnbaum, who rifled home a volleyed shot with his first touch, giving Jake Gleeson no chance at the save.
The Timbers were almost able to pull the proceedings even in the 25th minute. After making an explosive run through the center of the pitch, Darlington Nagbe slipped a through ball in behind the D.C. defense, finding the run of striker Jack McInerney. In one on one with D.C. keeper Bill Hamid, McInerney looked primed to score, only to see his low shot tipped up in the air by Hamid, caroming off the crossbar and away.
After that moment of hope, things suddenly got worse for the Timbers in the 29th minute as D.C. extended their lead to 2-0. As United brought the ball down the pitch, Patrick Mullins played a floated in ball for designated player Luciano Acosta. It looked like Jermaine Taylor would be able to knock the ball away, but the Timbers’ defender was unable to connect with the ball after leaping for it, leaving Acosta to bring the ball down with a smooth first touch before shipping the ball past Gleeson for the goal.
After a disjointed first half, the Timbers came out aggressively in the second, pushing regularly up the pitch and looking to get back into the match. After a strong start to the half, things returned to their frustrating status quo as the Timbers battered themselves against the D.C. defense and narrowly avoided giving up another goal to the counter.
Another chance would come the Timbers’ way in the 76th minute as Jack Jewsbury was taken down outside the D.C. box. Although the ball fell to substitute Jack Barmby in the box, referee Jorge Gonzalez blew for the foul, stopping play. With the chance taken away from him in the run of play, it was Barmby who would set up to the free kick and fire a curling shot on goal. Barmby’s ball had Hamid beaten, but like McInerney’s attempt earlier, it slammed off the crossbar, leaving the Timbers down 2-0.
The Timbers play again on Sunday when they head up north to take on the Seattle Sounders in just their third Cascadia Cup match of the season.